#Hope Angel

I took a different kind of lunch hour today.

These past months, my lunch hours have been filled with visits in the hospital with my dad along with commitments with my book and that all entails. The hour seemed never enough. But today I took the time to make it different.

I pointed my car towards the newly-renovated Tim’s, ( love seeing new renos) just me, myself, and I. Or so I thought. But this hour became a powerful reminder of the ” in the moments” I write about.

As I continued to stand in line and admire the newly renovated space, I gleaned a spot for myself as I waited. Just then, the lady in front of me turned to talk about the renos and her approval, I agreed.

I thought then that was the end of that, a nice little chat. But it was to be an hour I won’t soon forget. She then bravely turned to me and said” Would you mind some company at your table?” I had just gleaned with my iced coffee as I waited for my order.
I instantly came back with a “yes” because that is what comes easily for me. Me, myself, and I, always have room for one more.

The hour filled quickly with bits and pieces of our lives in the name of getting acquainted. And then I came to realize with a little more of her sharing, how incredible this meeting of a stranger was for me.

Only 67, she lived alone as her husband has lived in a personal care home for 12 years since he’d been 54…. I’m 54…. I let that sink in for a moment. I had shared about my husband’s Guillain-Barre journey 8 years ago and how he had walked out the hospital doors 6 weeks later after being paralyzed for most of it, being deemed the miracle man by the Doctors. My intent was to portray hope.

I realized very quickly that the well-dressed, well poised lady sitting across from me, had found a different kind of hope these past 12 years. Under a seemingly heavy load of unchanging circumstances, she had gleaned a daily strength from her God to face another day and see the positive in each day. She said it had been a choice… Daily. This choice was gleaned from her now 95 year old mother and the support she had given her through these years. She also had daughters and grandchildren just like myself. It could have been me….

As we said our goodbyes, my timer on my phone said it was time. We hugged as if we’d known each other a hundred years or more. It was a meeting she looked for daily as she dressed to go out for lunch in between her visits to her husband…. Not living the dream of retirement with her.

She graciously said I had blessed her, but I shook my head, eyes brimming as I knew she had been my blessing of the day.

Our paths may never cross again, but the meeting will linger with me for a long time as I cherish meeting her in in the moment, and find a different kind of Hope in her story ♥️

Sing Me Back Home

The cry of the steel guitar sliced smoothly through the air along with the kindred spirits of my uncle’s well worn banjo and the familiar sounds of the mandolin taking center stage in select songs.

The rhythm of the country gospel songs brought my heart back to a simpler time when I was a young girl, taking in these familiar sounds ringing out at many a family gathering…It was a beautiful thing.

The evenings of nightly music filled the air as my grandma told me over the years…her young life had been filled with the same memories. Many years later, the younger generation brought their voices to this sound of many generations by now. Singing had always been a love that filled my heart with the happiness, so I joined in. And I loved it.

As Christmas had already made its way into our hearts, the song selections followed along as traditional country gospel versions of Joy to the world, Silent night and many other Christmas classics had been replaced by Little Church in the Wildwood, Farther Along and Amazing Grace and many more tunes from across the decades.

Every season brought a new wave of selections.The steel guitar, the mandolin and banjo would croon out their own sort of perfection by my uncles. My aunt would add to this beauty of music, with her nimble fingers doing their magic, as she seem to look everywhere else but what her fingers were were doing. It was such a gift to listen to. Her beautiful, low beaming voice rang out each beautiful note, another God given gift.

There are many memories for many a decade at these family gatherings my heart can very quickly remember at will. The minute the instruments were picked up and took centre-stage, familiar voices rang out powerfully.

I was home.

My heart was home.

My relationship with God over the years became a place where when I came into His presence and the familiarity of the music my heart would experience spending time with Him, I would be home.

The months that sometimes went by between the special, musical family gatherings, seemed too long at times for my longing heart and I longed for the familiar songs that would sing me back home to those memories over the years…It was a place I longed to be.

Our God longs to sing us back home when too much time has passed by between being home with him. He longs for the time spent with us. It’s home to His heart when we come to stay awhile in His presence.

The Christmas season is upon us now again and I look forward to those evenings of music that seem to transcend time as the next generation continue the traditions and sing me back Home in my heart, just as our God longs to do for us.

His heart is always to sing me back home as He tells us in His Book.

“He will regularly rejoice over you with singing…”

What a day that will be when He will beautifully, one last time…

sing me back home.

Her Bible On The Bed

Gently but firmly, she’s smoothed the creases over every edge of her bed as she left her finishing touches on her usual morning ritual, her and dad’s pillows earning their usual spots, positioned precisely, snuggled happily against the custom Oak headboard…the day could begin.

And it began like every other… with her Bible on the bed.

She gently turn the well worn pages with reverence as each chapter was completed, her petite wedding ring adorned, hard working hands, clasped together as she talked to her God about what He was telling her in these pages. She needed every drop of wisdom for her long days ahead starting with a small heart and soul warming bowl of her favourite cream of wheat, her signature mug of hot water signifying the end of this morning ritual.

“It’s so good for you”, she would always say. I can still hear her voice telling me this on days I didn’t want to replace my coveted cold milk. She was right. It was good for the body… and the soul it seemed, at least she seemed to think so.

Her list of “to dos” were never to be found on any notepad or scrap of paper, it was just a running list that was never done and her mind along with her body suffered from the need to perfect. And for this, she needed her Bible on the bed… opened to the last place she had talked to her Jesus about what He was telling her on those precious pages.

Her long days in her large bountiful Garden needed some direction as her frustration sometimes mounted as the canning and the cooking and baking never seemed done despite her loving it all tremendously.

The dust on the furniture seemed to taunt her daily as it seemed to return before she was to have time to “shew” it away again. Another trip to her room for another gold nugget of wisdom and patience to face her frustrations needed to happen.

Her open Bible lay comfortably on her neatly made bed, always welcoming her… a habit she had observed from her little Russian grandma who had gleaned all her strength from her own…Bible on the bed.

Through the years, the need for these nuggets of wisdom from this open book was needed in her job as director of a group home and many a shift at the hospital as a nurse… her lifelong passion over the years. Those days of many a roaster of chicken and potatoes in her oven as she worked side-by-side with the church ladies preparing everything from weddings to funerals, needed strength, wisdom, and patience.

The early years had long days occupied with raising two daughters and a son along with mountains and valleys of 52 years of marriage as the years continued. Those years needed many… many trips to her Bible on the bed, dipping into the everlasting well of how to teach, patience to endure, and being reassured of the love of her Savior.

As the first of those she loved so dearly…her mother, left for eternity, her trips to this coveted open book on her precisely made bed, happen more frequently as her heart was grieving the loss of such that could hardly be explained… but the author of her Bible on the bed knew. It was here her wisdom, her strength, and her direction and comfort in all of life that passed by over the years, gave her hope in all her joys and in her sorrows.

And then there was her ever failing health since she been a young child on her mother and father’s farm in the 1940s… too many surgeries to count and doctor appointments too. Many a dot on the calendar. The weight of it all seemed too much some days over the years, but the open-book on the bed promised to give her rest for her soul and body if she would follow the instructions.

“Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

The last months of her life here on earth were spent in their apartment sitting by her large second-story window. Long gone where the busy days of yesteryear. Now surrounded by the things that made her heart happy. Her beloved hand projects…her last scarf that never did get finished… her pictures of her loved ones in many beautiful hand-picked frames, smiling at her. Her many years of diaries, that among many daily activities, spoke of the hope she had of a beautiful day when she would step into that beautiful land of eternal rest and reunions with her mother and father and so many more, along with seeing her Jesus, whom she had found in the pages of her Bible on the bed for so many years now.

But her most prized possession was her Bible on the bed that would ultimately point to her new home in Heaven, she had become so familiar with, as it had lived on her bed throughout the many years of her life, giving her wisdom, patients, comfort and the assurance of the love of her Savior for so many, many years.

But above all, it gave her a hope of a rest for her journey here on earth, for her heart and mind in all of life that had been lived.

All given from the many years of…

Her Bible on the bed.

Just a Little More Time.

The alarm rang “ferociously” in my head, or so I thought as 7 a.m. blinked happily through the cracks of my sleep deprived eyes.

Had I not just shut them?? It had seemed but a moment since then. I longed for just a little more time wrapped in my new crisp, yet cozy, white subtly appliqued bedding.

I half-heartedly moved out of my warm cacoon as my toasty bare feet hit the ground running. The minutes, the hours, in a single day seemed to get shorter and shorter as different seasons in life all clamoured for time in my day.

Two days earlier, the “ferocious” ringing of the alarm had reminded me again that cell group at my church was about to begin, but my semi subconscious mind had pressed snooze one time too many…again. My mind seemed to shout louder than usual that morning…

“Just a little more time!”

as I wrapped myself tighter in my warm cocoon.

The week seemed to race by at lightning speed as most lunch hours between my time at work were gladly spent visiting my dad in the hospital. Scheduled dentist appointments in the city, a funeral…( Life doesn’t seem to stop long enough to celebrate our loved one’s homegoing..) and coveted times spent finding my precious hugs from my little squealing grandbabies, music recitals from the older ones, and coffee dates with my grown daughters and friends, as my car pointed in all directions throughout the week.

“Just a little more time… just a little”

my mind said as the clock on my range stove seemed to leap foreward as my eyes caught a glimpse of the very white numbers that seemed to change with rapid speed through the rising steam of yet another pot of homemade soup and fresh farmer sausage, sizzling in a large size pan next to it.

Days before, a quick errand with my hubby pointed us to one of our favourite restaurants with our favourite appys in our favourite spot. A wonderful reprieve from the hustle of the week.

“Just a little more time”

pulsed in my head as we headed out the door towards the demands of more things filling the minutes, hours, and days of our lives.

As my body crawled willingly back into my warm cocoon of white, crisp, subtly appliqued bedding at the end of the day, my eyes fell on an older journal amongst a small pile, tucked away beside my nightstand nestled amongst all that was collected around the softly lit lamp. The familiar slant of my writing on the page brought me back to the moment I had written the words at the top of the day’s entry. It began like this…

“I just want to spend a little more time with you… I want to grow closer to you… sitting on the bench with you. Everything you will need in this lifetime will come from those visits… with me… it’s really that simple.”

My lips tasted a saltiness as a simple tear escaped unexpectedly from the corner of my tired eyes. My book In the Moment was born from this excerpt in my journal along with the pictures my Jesus had painted in my heart surrounding it many years ago.

I had forgotten for a short while, how important this time would be, trying to find time for everything else in my life before my time on the bench with Him.

“Just a little more time” with Jesus on my life journey would change my view I would have with everything and everyone I met.

The tiredness of just a little more time in my every day would be replaced by a rest that could only be found with Him as I gave Him…

“Just a little more time”

His request was gentle as I remembered it…

And as I reflected on all the things that I needed just a little more time with in my life in this moment…I knew that all would find its right order in my mind, and my heart could rest in all of life seasons and it’s business… if I would just remember to give Him…

“Just a little more time”.

The Days Of The Louisville.

Mornings arrived way too soon in the summer of my teenage hood.

This stark routine of school days had ended and late nights and even later mornings were my routine for the next couple of months. It wasn’t just a teenage thing, my whole family seem to hang on to this routine no matter what their ages or the seasons of the year.

But bills had to be paid and my dad’s gravel business woke at the crack of dawn. But my drive to join my dad on the gravel truck for the day trumped my sleepyhead. So off we went, gears shifting every second to get off our gravel country driveway, the morning sun peeking over the horizon in the distance over the farm fields as a new day greeted us.

By now I was fully awake as I settled in to my co-pilot chair. My dad settled in his captain’s chair, one arm perched on the ledge of his driver side open window, working indiscriminately on his chocolate farmer’s tan on his naturally freckled skin, which happen easily as the summer progressed.

My dad’s competence stood tall in my heart as he directed his gravel truck, the one they called the Louisville, steering easily with one hand. I felt like nothing could go wrong when my dad was behind the wheel, It was a security I cherished and didn’t ever want to take for granted… It just was.

Many deliveries of topsoil for gardens and yards were delivered those mornings to eagerly waiting customers, ready to plant and landscape.

I watched as my dad would proceed to dump the load of dirt in just the precise spot asked for. He then would climb out of the truck in his usual one swoop motion as I watched out the extra large front window from my seat.

I couldn’t hear what was said between my dad and the customer at the moment, but the body language, hand gestures and smiles on their faces as they communicated, told me everything my teenage mind could digest… All was good.

My dad had delivered, the customer was happy.

Although I felt my dad was invisible, he was human. His massive stroke he suffered 12 years ago now proves how human we are on this planet.

As the clock struck 10 a.m on my favourite watch, wrapped snuggly around my wrist, I sat a little closer to the edge of my copilot seat, hoping the rumbling Louisville would make a stop at the hometown coffee shop. I with my chocolate milk, and dad with his coffee.

I would get to sit with my dad as his coffee cup was filled and refilled many a time by the man with the white long apron, the owner of the place, as he sat alongside others who had listened to their watches.

They all caught up on the latest local news…. And they laughed. Loud. I loved it. I loved watching my dad laugh. He was in his glory. As I sat with my dad, among strangers and known company alike, I felt secure just to sit with my dad.

Thinking back to those days, it reminds me of how secure I feel when I sit in the company of my God, no matter the strangers or familiar company.

I have come to know, when I look for a coffee break with my God, He is always available.

When I looked out that front window of the Louisville so many years ago, watching my dad with the customers, he was taking care of things as I watched.

How often does our God not just take care of things when we step back, and He says to us: “just watch”.

He sits with us when we sit with those who are strangers, and those who are not. He is our security in the midst of all we do… Our mediator if we but let Him sit with us in all life matters and the things we don’t know how to handle.

Those Louisville days with my dad are fond memories buried deep in my heart.

And as I remember them, they remind me if we but sit with our God and let him be our security, mediator, and coffee break partner in our daily lives, we can rest in Him while He does what He does best.

Be God…

And that warms my heart..

As I remember the days of the Louisville.

My Grace Is Sufficient For Thee.

The persistent rain outside my Grandma’s kitchen window was teamed with a grey cloudy day.

A perfect day for laundry.

She had a weekly laundry schedule, but somehow these kind of days were absolutely perfect for spending the day in Grandma’s laundry room, at least for me, because I wasn’t on a schedule.

The single, incandescent bulb sat there against the wooden unfinished ceiling amidst the white wires threading their way through the 2 x 6 boards.

The room was small and quaint, just as I preferred it. Grandma’s washing machine and dryer we’re tucked neatly into one corner alongside a large wash basin sitting on a painted robin egg blue floor… so homemade multi coloured “bucha” it was for my little feet. (German for “knitted slippers.”)

Some of Grandpa’s things lived in this room also, along with some of grandma’s summer bowls and buckets reserved for the garden which had made their way in during the harvest. Grandpa’s potato buckets had its rightful spot alongside grandma’s ground cherry bowls, pale green in colour.

Grandpa’s grey and white farmhouse gloves, lived on neatly built shelves… a necessity for so many projects in his life, inside and out. Grandma’s neatly piled laundry dotted the floor. It was sorted to perfection.

It was a place my young heart loved as a child. But my most favourite spot was a small 60s chrome table with 1940’s plastic pattern covered chairs, tucked in on three sides.

I loved sitting here with my pencil and scribblers. It was all I needed as grandma went about her “wash day”.

My favourite of all, were the pictures this favourite laundry room of mine had. A smaller 5 x 7 picture of a Clear Lake sunset, taken by my grandma, was framed in the 70s gold frame. She loved taking pictures. So did I. Still do. I got lost in this picture every time. It was my happy place.

A little to the left was a large off white wooden frame with a relaxing winter scene with a frozen pond in the middle, with the moon dancing on every part of it, the snow bank glistening majestically.

It now hangs in my laundry room many years later… a treasured memory.

The ever infamous framed picture of two young children, a boy and a girl holding onto each other, walking over a bridge at night with boards missing and an angel, a large Angel with big wings and a very compassionate face, floating right behind them in their protection. It always brought much comfort to me staring into that picture.

But the thing I remember the most was a small plastic like ceramic, yellow gold plaque with the words:

My grace is sufficient for thee

hanging on a single sturdy nail my grandpa had aligned perfectly between the raw 2 x 4 walls.

I’m very sure I didn’t understand what that really meant at my tender age.

My grandma and grandpa came to a relationship with God as young adults in one summer afternoon. One experienced it in the farmhouse and one in the field, a short mile away.

I came to know many years later that many letters, written on onion thin airplane paper of the 1970s, held some heartache as they travelled to East Germany behind the Wall for many years.

The family stories of uncles suffering incessantly in Russian concentration camps, and their wives suffering… being left behind, taking care of the homesteads and sometimes almost starving to death not knowing when the days of suffering would be over.

For many years, I would have never known the hardships and horrors these things would have left in their hearts. Perhaps the nightly kneeling in opposite sides of Grandma and Grandpa’s double bed, heads bowed in their folded hands, German prayers quietly coming from their mouth, were where their strong source came from.

Atendance at weekly Sunday services in our local small town church and Sunday morning home visits Grandma and Grandpa would make on Sunday as representatives of the church, gave hope to so many in the less than formal spiritual care.

Many years later, I would have opportunity to experience There’s sufficient grace. etched in that small ceramic plaque.

Raising four beautiful daughters and the life of parenting and what that all encompasses, A marriage that has encroached on 35 years, would need much sufficient Grace and all of life in between, grace in my daily falters with just my walk was my God as I knew him. Grace in my relationships and Grace to love others and most of all… myself.

Grace to Love me.

Little did I know, gazing at the small plastic plaque, what those words would come to mean to me many years later.

Those special moments of that small, but happy laundry room, still bring much warmth to my heart, but the memory of that plaque would forever remain something etched in my mind and heart.

Those short but powerful words have taken on a whole new meaning to me for me now many many years later.

It now hangs proudly in my laundry room.

My God has promised and has followed through on this of many promises in His Word…. And he continues to tell me…

My grace is sufficient for thee.